Jennifer’s Body should have made a bigger splash when it came out in 2009. As we approach Halloween, nearly 10 years on, it’s worth considering that its themes of abuse, empowerment and accountability would likely be a winning formula with horror movie critics in the #MeToo era.
The film has a Mean Girls irreverence, mixed with the dark quirkiness of Ginger Snaps, two cult titles it comfortably holds its own against. It was also penned by Diablo Cody, who was fresh off her Oscar win for fan-favourite Juno. And with solid direction from Karyn Kusama and great performances from both main and supporting cast members (Megan Fox and J.K. Simmons especially), it’s frankly baffling that it was cast aside as B-grade genre trash.
The film currently holds a 44 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an even lower 34 percent audience score. Even the critics who liked it tended to categorize it as a fairly empty bit of entertainment, riffing on the teen horror genre just enough to keep you distracted for 102 minutes.
But it’s a far more compelling and important movie than that.
Fox plays the titular Jennifer, a high school cheerleader and popular girl who goes to see big city indie band Low Shoulder (think a cross between the Killers and Dashboard Confessional) at a local dive bar with her best friend Needy. Something’s off about the band though, led by The O.C.’s Adam Brody, who takes an interest in Jennifer, speculating with his bandmates on whether she’s a virgin. During the show, the bar burns down suspiciously—the musicians seem pretty unsurprised and unbothered, and all make it out without a scratch. With several Devil’s Kettle citizens dead or unaccounted for, Jennifer agrees to get a ride to safety with the band, against Needy’s protests.
Jennifer comes back changed after the show. With the town reeling from the fire, she’s oddly chipper, until she starts to get “hungry.” We learn later what Low Shoulder did, which involved sacrificing a virgin to a demon. Only trouble is, Jennifer wasn’t a virgin, so something went wrong, and she came back with supernatural powers and an appetite for human flesh.